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New Zealand firms sign up for fuel cell trucks network

Hyzon and Hiringa link on hydrogen heavy vehicles as fleets focus on zero emissions


The southern hemisphere heavy truck propulsion battle between battery and hydrogen fuel cell technology may be fought in New Zealand, with Australian firms as interested observers.

Battery electric light and medium trucks, not least those powered by Australia’s SEA Electric technology, are already operational across the Tasman Sea.

Now New Zealand’s Hiringa Energy looks to have been thrown down a hydrogen fuel cell challenge, announcing a heads of agreement understanding with US firm Hyzon Motors.

Hyzon made headlines in Australia last month over fuel-cell buses for Fortescue Metals Group and earlier had a low-key launch of an Australian arm, where trucks also came into the frame.

But the regional trucks focus is now on NZ, with Hiringa eyeing a fleet of its large trucks by next year.

“The heavy fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) will be tailored to meet the demanding and unique requirements of the New Zealand heavy freight and road transport sector and it is expected that the vehicles will enter service in New Zealand from the start of 2021,” the companies say.

“This agreement supports Hiringa and its partners’ strategy to roll out over 1,500 FCEVs by 2026, driving the cost of the technology down and unlocking widespread adoption of zero emission heavy transport.

The trucks are to  come in a variety of right-hand drive configurations with a gross combined mass (GCM) of more than  50 tonne  and suitable for New Zealand operators, including 8×4 and 6×4 rigid and prime movers with driving distances of up to 500km.

“This agreement helps bring a major piece of the puzzle together for zero emission supply chains, delivering an exciting solution for the high utilisation heavy trucking sector, and complements the partnerships we have been growing with trucking industry leaders such as TIL Group and TR Group,” Hiringa CEO Andrew Clennett says.

“We are looking forward to working with these partners, their customers, and other key players in the heavy transport industry on this roll-out.

“New Zealand is set to be one of the first countries in the world to be able to offer a zero emission national supply chain.

“With Hyzon we have vehicles bringing new technology and a focus on absolute maximisation of efficiency and reduction of operational cost.”

Truck and trailer hire firm TR Group already has a memorandum of understanding with Hiringa for fuel cell trucks.

Read how SEA Electric eyes NZ zero emissions opportunities, here

“Our aim with this partnership is to help make it easier for clients to get to their goal and reduce some of the risks for them along the way,” TR Group MD Andrew Carpenter says.

TIL Logistics Group believes its Hiringa MOU “has the potential to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from TIL’s national fleet of 900 trucks, 310 forklifts and 170 light vehicles.

“While there are a range of production, deployment and infrastructure options to be worked through, the use of hydrogen fuel has the potential to power our national fleet from a renewable source,” CEO Alan Pearson says.

The Hiringa-Hyzon agreement foresees an initial validation phase, with 20 trucks deployed in 2021, moving to large-scale commercial deployment from 2022 onwards.

“Hyzon is delighted to work with Hiringa in accelerating the decarbonisation of commercial transport in New Zealand, which is highly fitting for a country known for its pristine environment,” Hyzon Motors co-founder Craig Knight says.

“This heads of agreement with Hiringa closely follows the signing of an agreement for Hyzon to supply hydrogen fuel cell-powered coaches to Western Australian iron ore miner Fortescue Metals Group’s Christmas Creek operations.

“We are excited to be rapidly growing our presence in Australia and New Zealand and look forward to playing our part in the global decarbonisation story.”

The trucks will be fuelled by Hiringa’s national hydrogen refuelling network located on key partner sites, such as Waitomo Group’s existing fuel stops.

The network is to begin refuelling operations in 2021, expanding to eight stations across the North and South Islands by 2022 as part of a Phase 1 network infrastructure plan, servicing 100 per cent of the North Island and 82 per cent of the South Island heavy freight routes.

The Phase 2 expansion will increase the network to at least 24 stations by 2025, providing coverage for 95 per cent of all heavy vehicle routes throughout New Zealand.

“The FCEV truck market is growing rapidly, with enormous demand coming out of the US and Europe,” Hiringa chief technology officer Dan Kahn says.

“So, for New Zealand to be able to secure this agreement with Hyzon demonstrates New Zealand’s leadership in how we are approaching the hydrogen FCEV opportunity.

“We look forward to getting these trucks on our roads early next year and putting them through their paces prior to widespread rollout for the New Zealand trucking industry in 2022. These exciting trucks are a flavour of what’s to come.”


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